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Ryan Wells has experienced health care through multiple lenses: the medical device industry, major health systems and payers, and as an entrepreneur.

In its own way, each of those angles inspired him to found Health Here with a focus on frictionless patient care.

Health Evolution interviewed Wells about overcoming the challenges he’s faced building a truly consumer-friendly platform in health IT, why patient-facing software must be bi-directionally integrated with health system software such as EMRs, and how he applies lessons learned from mountaineering to innovating in health care.

As a serial entrepreneur, what was the inspiration for Health Here? The origin story?
I’ve spent 25 years in healthcare and gathered perspectives through several angles: from the operating room floor to the complex world of health systems, major payers, and health care IT. Nothing I’ve seen in all this time has shaken my core conviction that the patient-physician relationship is the foundation of the entire system.

If you think about that special relationship between a patient and their doctor, it is infused with trust, respect, and personal connection. However, nearly every patient interaction outside of the core patient-provider relationship is confusing, opaque, and, when you get right down to it, cold. Just recall the last time you saw a doctor. You show-up 30 minutes before your visit to fill-out 20 minutes of paperwork. When you go back to see your doctor, often 20 minutes after your scheduled appointment time, a medical assistant then asks you the same set of questions you just answered in the waiting room. When your doctor sees you, you receive several treatment options with no reference to actual costs, and when you leave the clinic, you have no idea how much that 10-minute interaction with your doctor will cost you. This whole process is frustrating and disrespectful to both patients and providers.

So when you ask about my inspiration, it started with my frustration at this fundamental disconnect between how patients connect with their doctors versus how they experience the rest of the health care system.

What has that inspirational itch grown into?
That inspirational itch has grown into Health Here and the Clinic Q platform. Our mission, from day one, has been to bring simplicity and clarity to each patient-provider interaction, from first impression to final payment. We’ve built an entire patient-facing suite of products within Clinic Q to support that overarching goal, but, when you boil it down, we’re giving patients two main things they lack in the care journey today: 1) cost clarity, and 2) a convenient, mobile-friendly interface for interacting with their providers.

We’re seeing that when practices adopt our platform and give their patients these tools, they’re spending less time on administrative work, like registration and collections, and more time on that core patient-physician relationship. Everything else, which is just noise, can fade into the background.

In just a couple of years, we’ve gained quite a bit of traction by focusing on the ambulatory market, particularly on orthopedics and other proceduralists like GI. Patients are paying more out-of-pocket for elective care than ever (64% owe more than $500 a year), and most of the care in these specialties is “shoppable” — people have time to think and browse a bit before choosing their course of treatment or site of care. Our thesis is that providers who build patient trust through cost clarity and easy-to-use patient-facing technologies will be the big winners. And the data seems to demonstrate that.